DOI: 10.1101/455675Oct 29, 2018Paper

Does closing the eyes enhance auditory attention? Eye closure increases attentional alpha-power modulation but not listening performance

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Malte WoestmannJonas Obleser


In challenging listening conditions, closing the eyes is a strategy with intuitive appeal to improve auditory attention and perception. On the neural level, closing the eyes increases the power of alpha oscillations (~10 Hz), which are a prime signature of auditory attention. Here, we test whether eye closure benefits neural and behavioural signatures of auditory attention and perception. Participants (N = 22) attended to one of two alternating streams of spoken numbers with open or closed eyes in a darkened chamber. After each trial, participants indicated whether probes had been among the to-be-attended or to-be-ignored numbers. In the electroencephalogram, alpha power was modulated in synchrony with auditory attending versus ignoring. Importantly, eye closure did not only increase the overall level of absolute alpha power but also the attentional modulation thereof. Behaviourally, however, neither perceptual sensitivity nor response criterion was affected by eye closure. To further examine whether this behavioural null-result would conceptually replicate in a simple auditory detection task, a follow-up experiment was conducted that required participants (N = 19) to detect a near-threshold target tone in noise. As in the main...Continue Reading

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